Among the most controversial items on the agenda for the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s meeting today and Tuesday in Harrisburg is one that would allow hunters in the special-regulations area of southeastern counties to draw deer in with bait.

Because baiting has historically been illegal in Pennsylvania, it is hard for hunters – especially those on this end of the state – to understand why the agency would even consider it now. But, Commissioner Dave Schreffler of Everett said that is because most of the state can’t grasp the extent of problems deer are causing in the southeast.

“We have to keep in mind that, in that situation, it does not deal with recreational hunting,” he said. “It’s a situation of pest control, you might say.”

The plan that will be recommended to the commissioners would allow each hunter to distribute no more than 10 pounds of bait at a time, three times a day, and to hunt over existing bait stations that are designed to lure deer in to be treated for ticks – an effort to control Lyme disease.

“I was in that region, and I hiked around and talked to some people in a park down there,” Schreffler said. “It’s just surprising to some of us the number of people who have contracted Lyme disease and have health problems related to the deer. It’s very striking, and very soul-searching, when you get letters from people who have a child that has contracted Lyme disease because they were willing to tolerate the deer and let them eat some of their shrubbery. This is a much more serious situation.”

The language that will be proposed to the commissioners includes a provision that causes the baiting regulation to expire in three years unless it is renewed.

The meeting agenda also contains 13 pages devoted to regulatory changes the commissioners will be asked to approve to pave the way for the planned point-of-sale licensing system, which would eliminate traditional back-tag hunting licenses. The computer-based system also would provide the means for the agency to quickly compile statistics on license sales and give law enforcement officers a way to almost instantly check on the status of a hunter.

The game commission is working on point-of-sale in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, which plans to implement the system in December, when 2007 fishing licenses go on sale. The game commission hopes to introduce the computerized sales next summer, with 2007-08 hunting licenses.

“That’s an important priority for all of us,” Schreffler said. “Hopefully, it’s going to advance us into the 21st century. An officer will be able to (quickly) tell if a person has a license, and things will move quicker for those applying for doe licenses and things. For instance, now a hunter has to wait until he is notified by mail that he got a license or was rejected. Sometimes, by the time they find out they were not selected, nearby units may be closed. We hope to resolve all of those kinds of problems and little things that cause headaches for everybody. The first year, there will be some kinks, I’m sure. But, I think it’s going to be a really, really big step.”

The commissioners also will be asked to approve a number of real-estate transactions, one that would give the ORD Sewer Authority of Clearfield and Centre counties a 6,070-foot section of abandoned railroad grade on State Game Land 60 Centre County in exchange for $3,000 to be applied to the purchase of property across Route 30 from the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shade Township, Somerset County.

The commissioners previously approved buying 300 acres of wetlands and former strip mines adjacent to the memorial to create a new game land. Amfire Mining Co. provided $120,000 toward the purchase in a previous land deal with the game commission.

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